In a recent study from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas showed that connections between certain brain regions are amplified in teens who take more risks.
This study that included 36 adolescents in the age group of 12-17, matched 18 risk-taking teens to a group of 18 non-risk-taking teens according to age and sex.
All the participants' brains underwent functional MRI (fMRI) scans to examine communication between brain regions associated with the emotional-regulation network. These teenagers were also screened for risk-taking behaviors defined by activities like drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and physical violence.
Lead author of the study, Sam Dewitt said, "Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making. Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network."
Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., Director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research of Addictive Behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth and her colleagues who conducted the study have found that risk-taking teens exhibit hyperconnectivity between the amygdala which is responsible for processing emotions, and specific areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with emotion regulation and critical thinking skills.
Dewitt explained, "Our findings are crucial in that they help identify potential brain biomarkers that, when taken into context with behavioral differences, may help identify which adolescents are at risk for dangerous and pathological behaviors in the future."
He also pointed out though the risk-taking group took part in risky behavior, none of them met clinical criteria for behavioral or substance use disorders.
The study was published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.